Tuesday 20 August 2019

Tenants in apartment block may be at risk due to allegedly unauthorised alterations by landlord, court hears

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Ray Managh

THE lives of tenants living in an apartment block may be at risk due to allegedly unauthorised alterations made to an apartment by their landlord, a judge has stated in the Circuit Civil Court.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane said she had a feeling a two-bedroom apartment had been changed by businessman and landlord Paul Howard into a three-bed unit because of a greed for more money.

The court heard Howard, currently living “in sunny Spain,” was due to return to Dublin tomorrow, Wednesday May 29, to deal with legal proceedings taken by No 52 Mountjoy Square Management Company against him and business partner Una McClean.

Barrister Martin Canny, who appeared for the management company with Kent Carty Solicitors, told Judge Linnane that although fire safety issues had been reported to Dublin City Council the resolution of the matter had been left by the council in the hands of the management company.

Mr Canny said legal proceedings relating to unapproved changes to Apartment No 18 within the residential block had been taken out against Mr Howard and Una McClean, with an address at 42 Larkfield Avenue, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6.

The court heard that the management company had written to Howard and McClean pointing out that they had breached planning laws and a tenancy agreement by converting No 18 into a two storey apartment within a single storey unit.

The company alleges that the couple carried out the changes without any adequate fire safety precautions having been observed and in circumstances where the development now posed a major fire safety risk.

They had been asked for confirmation that a mezzanine floor that had been constructed within No 18 would be removed and the property returned to its original configuration.

Judge Linnane said that an expert witness employed by Mr Howard in relation to the legal proceedings had failed to submit a report or meet with an expert on behalf of the management company in a bid to resolve matters.

Meanwhile the court felt that tenants in No 18, who may not know of the fire risk to their lives, should have been informed that they were living in conditions unauthorised by the planning authority.

A solicitor for Howard, following talks outside court with McClean, handed into a court a written proposal in which it was undertaken that another expert would be engaged to carry out a joint inspection and prepare a report for the court.

Mr Canny told the judge the matter was “very serious” and if the management company’s application for orders remedying the situation was to be further adjourned the next court would be the seventh time it had appeared either in the County Registrar’s Court or the Circuit Court.

“My client’s primary concern is with regard to the fire risk,” Mr Canny said.

Judge Linnane adjourned the matter for mention until the last day of the current legal term early next month.

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